East Vs West CoastComparing the surf on both coasts of Sri Lanka

Max Hepworth-Povey

2 years ago in Sri Lanka

We’ve been stuck in a pleasant Groundhog Day situation here in Sri Lanka for the past month as the South / West Coast season is turning out to be a classic with consistently head high and clean waves every day.

All the reefs are working; we’ve got long lefts, punchy a-frames, barreling rights and a plethora of peaks popping up and down the whole stretch of coast which are yet to be surfed!

This is a vast contrast to the waves we were surfing pre-October, as we were holed up in Arugam Bay on the East Coast, a region which offers nothing but shoulder to sometimes overhead-high right hand point breaks. The majority of which break over forgiving sand.

Comparing the coasts of Ceylon to American Hip-Hop isn’t just a fun euphemism used to title this blog. The West Coast King Tupac was a legendary lyricist and political poet, he was angry and raw and put rhymes together cleverly. The SWest Coast of Sri Lanka offers many waves that are yet to be named, sometimes 2ft and playful, sometimes 6ft and aggressive. Whereas the effortless storytelling ability of the Notorious B.I.G from the East Coast, who rhymed with a smooth flow like no other bares resemblance to the seemingly never-ending point breaks of Potuvil Point, Peanut Farm, Whiskey Point, Main Point A Bay etc…

Photo: Mary Evans/FILMFOUR/LAFAYETTE FILMS/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection

I’ve never been able to decide which rapper was my favourite as both suit separate moods, then the other day I was asked, which do I prefer; the East Coast or the SWest coast of Sri Lanka, a question I mulled over and couldn’t answer, so thought it would be a good idea to outline the pros and cons of both in a blog and maybe find a resolution.

East (April – October)

“Lovely little waves”

The amount of times I’ve heard or said the above after a leg-achingly long session on one of the many East Coast Point Breaks is uncountable. The waves simply are lovely, but unfortunately little. However, it’s not the size what counts it’s the quality of the ride. If you are unhappy after surfing a 2-3ft peeling right with the odd barrel section with nobody but your girlfriend, you probably need to reassess your priorities in life.

Well not that little. Classic day at Peanut Farm

+ LONG right hand points
+ LONG right hand points
+ Not many reef breaks meaning not many reef cuts
+ Many empty waves to be found
+ Mellow vibes in and out of the water
+ See elephants and heaps of other wildlife en route to the waves

– Not many reef breaks if that’s what you’re after
– Rarely over 4ft
– Main spots can get crowded
– Nowhere to surf in the ‘off season’
– Nearly driving into an elephant on the way to a surf can be pretty scary!
– Crocodiles

This is what the East Coast looks like. Every day.

West (October – April)

Tropical Cornwall on a good day

If you’re reading this you most probably will have surfed in Cornwall, England and perhaps have a memory of a really epic session. Well that’s a little bit what it’s like down here on the South West Coast of Sri Lanka pretty much every day (in the season). If you haven’t surfed the blessed UK shores of Cornwall, imagine waves ranging from 2-6ft with light offshore winds all morning, light onshore through the day, then offshore again an hour before sunset. Who doesn’t like that?

Slabs to be found if you go hunting

+ Lots of surf spots, many still remain nameless
+ Lots of reef breaks meaning reading the waves is very easy
+ Extremely consistent swell which is never too big or too small
+ Plenty of sea-life such as turtles and parrotfish to observe swimming around the reefs
+ Numerous surf spots work in the ‘off season’

– No real point breaks
– Not many beach breaks
– Few barreling waves

This is a great summary of what waves are on offer on the SW Coast:

East or West?

So to summarise, the East Coast is point break heaven where surfing is a truly pleasurable relaxing experience, then the South West is a wave rich stretch of coast which goes on for 100 miles with countless waves on offer. Which do I prefer? Well I love the leg-burningly long rides you get on the East Coast, but the variety of waves on offer down South keeps the surfing stoke alight so I genuinely can’t answer the question.

To surf both coasts in one surf trip, join our next Coast to Coast Tour leaving in March 2020!